The defining characteristic of any government is how its people function under it. Some would say it’s the ability to defend its borders, but the stories that ring true are the ones told by its citizens. It would be easy to say that Illthorn’s presidency and government were blessed but that is the outside perspective.
From the inside, it was fraught with intrigue and peril. It was a government just getting its feet after fighting a civil war. A war fought over something no one, at least no one sane, thought was real just 5 years earlier. Magic.
Or that’s what the biographies all say. But really it was over something much more fundamental. The right to exist.
The former United States reacted, how shall we say, poorly, to the war. Its right leaning so called moral majority saw the mages and all flavors of practioners as a direct threat to the country. And those that didn’t see them this way approached these people as a resource to be exploited.
The left was no better mind you. They wanted to regulate magics use. Defining where and under what circumstances that magic could be used. But it was the hateful rhetoric of the far right which would inflame the country.
It started with licensing. Similar to a driver’s license there was a magic license. You had to display certain control and abilities to be licensed. Nonlicense bearers could expect fines and even misdemeanor charges for practicing magic.
This presented a number of issues. Not the least being that magic is not a car or gun. It is anything but standard and only the broadest of categories need apply. Even worse, the few practioners who agreed to set up the programs were the most straightforward types and really had no working knowledge of magical theory.
This meant that many practioners could not get a license even if they wanted to. The tests could not measure their abilities. So how could they license them.
This lead to a rise in magic related crime. A majority of which was, you guessed it, practicing magic without a license.
As the crime stats reported this rise in magic related crimes, political speeches and platforms began to pivot to ‘handle this epidemic’. Instead of concentrating on the actual crime, the methodology was called into question. If magic was the problem, then the solution must be to ban or heavily regulate magic.
But magic is both a practice which can be regulated and taught and a integral part of the individual. How does one change what a person is? Psychologists thought they had a solution. They found that a child could be trained to suppress their magical abilities if subjected to enough negative stressors.
Looking at it from the long lens of hindsight we can clearly see the harmful and disastrous consequences of this. But what must be stressed is that people had been whipped into a frenzy by those who sought to profit off of fear.
The group founded by Illthorn, the hero of the war, tried to combat this with education, kindness, and political will. They fought Bill after Bill in both federal and state legislative bodies. Most never passed and a few were struck down in court. But they could not be everywhere. And slowly they began to lose ground.
People began to be incarcerated for magic itself. For some this was the correct thing for the wrong reason.
A man in Connecticut killed children and reanimated them as puppets for use in sex trafficking. A woman in Texas acted as a arsonist for hire and killed people who attempted to escape the blaze. These examples were held up as the reason magic was so dangerous. Not these people in particular but that magic itself was to blame. It became dangerous to be seen to practice magic.
People turned on the heroes of the war. The goodwill earned eroded away and only the differences remained. The liberal press wanted to treat magic as a disease and the conservative movements saw magic as inherently evil. If you had a magical nature or talent you hid it lest you be subjected to psych evaluation and correction or to outright violence and bigotry.
Then the hidden practitioner, driven underground by the society at large, became a bogeyman. They walk among us, report on your neighbors. Fear and thinly veiled hatred for the differences from the median norm became worse and worse
Factions in the Illthorn camp, began to organize for revolution. Centered around veterans of the war, these cadres began to train and weaponize seemingly harmless talents.
Illthorn himself was fighting a last ditch battle to turn back the Magical Crimes and Abuses Act. A bit of legislation that made magic itself illegal.
At the same time, a so called cure for magic was being lauded in secular scientific journals. While the majority of science was still up in the air about magic, these journals were making hay while the sun shined and were legitimizing the cure for magic.